BY ALI NAQVI –
Little knowledge is always dangerous. There are Pakistanis, a very particular uneducated class, who believe that multinational companies like Unilever, P&G, Pepsi, Coke, etc. are here to ruin our people both physically and mentally.
There are a dozen conspiracy theories as to how these companies are following the Jewish-American agenda to destroy Pakistani nation. Coke has explicitly called Pakistanis ‘Inteha Pasand’ (extremists). This is not the first time that the brand has done that. Their previous TVC aired during World Cup also celebrated the idea that ‘we’ are extremists.
People who understand the norms of advertising know how dangerous it is for a brand to touch controversial ideas or discuss hardcore religious and political issues. One cannot even imagine that agency as prestigious as Ogilvy, again a multinational, could create such a campaign.
The TVC starts with a statement “every minute 10 extremists (Pakistanis) are born”. Then the film opens with a newborn baby and the voiceover says “lo aik aur extremist paida ho gaya” and then comes the sentence that invokes utter shame and humiliation on our country and people “dunya such kehti ha, hum inteha pasand he tou hain” (the world is right in saying that we are extremists).
Watching this ad, that is supposed to celebrate the Independence Day and Eid-ul-Azha, one cannot express the feelings of disgust, disgrace and remorse one goes through. Ask a parent who lost his son or daughter to the evil of extremism. The very word is haunting and horrifying for people who have seen their loved one depart forever.
Since the first Afghan war Pakistan has been paying a heavy price for allowing this unspeakable menace to grow around us. We have been fighting extremism for more than two decades. We have spent our energies to tell the world that we have nothing to do with extremist elements found in the region. Our economy, our sports and our entertainment industry had been the victims of terrorism and extremism. Mindless creativity of Coca-Cola has ruined the hard work of successive governments, security institutions, civil society and the common man.
According to Coke, the world is right in labeling us as extremists. How right it would be to go into those conspiracy theories that Coke is following American-Jewish agenda? Well, it would not be right to pass any judgements, but questions will be raised nevertheless.
Let’s be responsible while making a marketing strategy; a campaign that speaks for the entire nation. The government is currently very vigilant about censorship but who will put a check on advertising content.
Why are we not willing to talk about liberalism and enlightenment? What stops us from being rational and reasonable? When will we be able to recognize the intellectual corruption that is plaguing our generation? For now, only the strength to ask these questions is required.